Samaritan’s Purse News From Texas and Beyond

Franklin Graham reports that it will take years for parts of Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean to recover from the massive damage of last year’s three major hurricanes.

Following an extended time of cleanup, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and staff are helping to rebuild houses, replace mobile homes, and work with church and ministry partners to complete the task as soon as possible. The Goal of Samaritan’s Purse is to help 1,000 families in Texas move back into their houses which were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.  A number of houses in the Houston area have been renovated, with a focus on the elderly, uninsured, and others who are unable to make repairs themselves.

At the same time, families and churches in Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Barbuda, and Dominica remain in desperate straits following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Samaritan’s Purse sent a cargo ship with 1,250 tons of lumber and other construction materials to the Caribbean.  To date, 18 houses have been rebuilt on Barbuda.

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Deep in Our Hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Do you remember your times tables?  Progression up the sets was a kind of rite of passage.  The 1s times table was simple.  It wasn’t until you got to the 7s or 8s and 9s that the easy cadence from 1 through 10 slowed down and pauses pulled out all your memory tricks. Perhaps there are, even after all these years, multiplication sets that stump you?  Do you still pause on 7 x 8?  Or 6 x 9?  The goal in memorizing these math “facts” was always to make them a part of your arithmetic memory so that they became second nature.  You no longer paused at a series of numbers like a scared third-grader hoping not to be called on at that moment.  When that relaxed ability to respond automatically occurs, you have integrated them into your calculating self.

Integrating the will of God, understanding the paths of righteous living as the Bible calls it, and aligning ourselves with a life in tune with a divine calling is more than memorizing rules and being able to repeat them like a robot or recording machine.  This is what Jeremiah is getting at when he hears God calling for a new Covenant, one where the paths toward peace are carved, not on stone tablets, but on the hearts of God’s people.

Our churches work hard at creating space Sunday mornings for children and adults to explore values and spirituality, to study the Bible, as well as learn the mundane facts we take for granted–like the 10 commandments and the order of the biblical books.  Can you name the disciples?  (That’s a trick question because they aren’t the same in every gospel.)  There’s a lot about our faith tradition that we take for granted and many of us are ignorant about Christian history and theology.  How do we take our tradition and write its premises on our hearts?

When we were toddlers, we learned to say, “Thank you” because our parents taught us to say it.  We were praised every tme we said those words.  When we became adults, we learned that expressing gratitude created a link between us and others that created a wave of hospitality making our world better.  Such waves are the products of writing those rules about value in our molecules.  Such is the world that Jeremiah predicts.  So may it be.


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Calling All Ladies!!

A short get-away is planned this spring.  Pastor Carol, along with Dotty Hartzell and Belinda Lentz from St. John’s UCC, Dover, Ohio, will be facilitating a gathering to be held at Templed Hills, our UCC church camp at Bellville, OH.

The event will take place beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 4, and ending at approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.  There will be no cost except a Friday evening meal.

Have you ever prayed using colors?  How about beads?  Have you ever prayed using your nose or your sense of touch?  Well, you will if you join us that weekend.  In case you think this may be a tad boring–forget it!  There will be plenty of laughter as well.

See Pastor Carol if you would like to attend.  A good and prayer-filled time will be had by all!

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Operation Christmas Child Update

The shoeboxes that we collected at Christmastime were part of a delivery to 27,506 children in Belize.  Belize has 360,000 people and is located on the eastern coast of Central Africa.  Thirty-four percent of the population is 14 years or younger.  Thank you to all who filled a box for this most worthwhile project.

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Easter Sunday Breakfast April 1

The men of St. John’s will host their annual Easter breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. on April 1.  Don’t be fooled!!  It will be a breakfast worth attending!  There will be no adult Christian Education classes that Sunday.

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One Great Hour of Sharing Offering Received

Sunday, March 11, the One Great Hour of Sharing offering will be collected.  This is the Lenten offering of the United Church of Christ that supports disaster, refugee, and development activities.

The OGHS offering received on March 11 totaled $595.00.  This is a generous amount which will be put to good use by the UCC.

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Do You Want to Fast This Lent?

In the words of St. Francis:

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
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Maundy Thursday Service at St. John’s/The Walk of the Cross and Good Friday Service

A joint Maundy Thursday service, with Emmanuel UCC, will take place at St. John’s United Church of Christ at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29.  The service of Tenebrae will be observed.  All are welcome to attend and reflect on the Last Supper.

On Friday, March 30, the Bluffton Area Ministerial Association community crosswalk will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the English Lutheran Church and will end with the Good Friday service at St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 12:00 noon.  All are welcome to participate.



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Lenten Daily Devotional Booklets Available

To help us observe Lent, there are a number of daily devotional booklets available at the back of the church sanctuary on the windowsill.  If you are homebound and would like to have a booklet, you may contact the church office to receive one.


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Easter Lilies/Church World Service Blankets to be Ordered

It’s time to order Easter lilies and/or blankets for Easter Sunday!  Order forms will be placed in church bulletins through March 4.  The final day to place your orders is Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Only lilies will be available for purchase through the church this year due to the closing of our former distributor.  Our new provider can obtain only lilies, and the cost will be $8 per lily.  If you should care to purchase some other variety of flower to place at the altar, you may do so by purchasing it elsewhere and bringing it to the church.

If you wish to order Church World Service Blankets, they are $10.00 each.  Checks for either, or both, lilies and blankets are to be made payable to St. John’s UCC.  Blankets may be ordered through March 25.



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